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1001 New Worshiping Community retreats are ‘lifesaving endeavors’

Next retreat invites spiritual leaders to ‘Wait Upon the Lord’

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by KaLisa Veer via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Libby Tedder Hugus and resident Jessika Waldron of The Table in Casper, Wyoming, have come to rely on retreats being offered by 1001 New Worshiping Communities.

Both plan to participate in the online “Wait Upon the Lord” Advent Retreat set for November 15-16.

Describing participating in 1001 retreats as a “life-saving endeavor” Tedder Hugus said the Ignatian Spirituality retreat in August was like “plugging in a battery pack when we needed it.”

“Without it we would have been in an unhealthy place mentally, spiritually and emotionally,” she said.

Tedder Hugus and Waldron are trying to make sabbath and retreats, which they say are necessary for their health and sustainability as leaders, part of their practice. They’ve now participated in three of the retreats made available to worshiping community leaders.

Jessika Waldron

Because Waldron had been drawn toward St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “Spiritual Exercises,” she kept pressing Tedder Hugus to sign up for the retreat. Even though the exercises had always seemed mysterious and elusive to her — even kind of secretive — she loved the idea of having spiritual support.

“I didn’t know there were practical ways [in the exercises] to deepen my own spirituality,” she said. “I needed help.”

According to Tedder Hugus, the significance of the Ignatian retreat was having extended space to experience God’s Spirit enlightening their own imagination. During an Ignatian prayer exercise by Sean M. Powers, S.J, retreat participants were encouraged to imagine the risen Christ meeting his mother — and to ask for the grace to know the joy of the resurrection as Mary knew it.

In response to the exercise, Tedder Hugus, who is mother of two children, said the poem “Cherish,” reproduced below with the permission of Tedder Hugus, began to pour out of her, helping the resurrection become embodied and profound.

Cherish

like a grief-relieved Mama

cherishes the sight

of her once-dead

son —

and knows the truth

that the horrific hour of death

is as real as the

utter joy of

the infinite moment of birth —

resurrection

aliveness

hope

rebirth

light / un-leashed

death / un-chained

so I too,

as a scared, alone, weak, grief-stricken

Mama

will cherish the sight of

my risen Jesus — my life-force —

once blind, now seeing

once lost, now found

once buried in grave clothes

now

bathed in light

life

vernix

joy

newness

forever.

From dark, warm, nourishing

womb

to first-breath, first gulp,

first-in-love-look

From musty, dank, dark

tomb

to oak-moss-fresh, sun-beamed

day light

From womb to tomb to Resurrection.

That day, that Mama.

This day, this Mama.

Together, she and I, the Mother Mary

we are raised

resurrected

with Jesus

I see. We see.

Jesus restores our sight.

That God, that Jesus, that Spirit energy,

works miracles here

in my human body

in my beating heart

in my want-to-believe eyes

in my blessed womb

The energy of our Mothering God

who birthed a precious son

and watched his death-by-silenced-love

broke the curse of death and decay and disgust.

She invites me, a once-dead-to-love

once-scared, alone, weak, grief-stricken

Mama

home, to myself

home, to herself

home, to limitless love

She energizes me to dwell in the divine becoming

divine unfolding

divine dance

divine breath

divine heartbeat

divine death-defying resurrection

and empowers me in co-creation by making all things, all beings, all creation

vernix-new.

Cherish the womb

Cherish the {empty} tomb.

Cherish the sight.

— The Rev. Libby Tedder Hugus, penned on 24 August 2021

The Rev. Libby Tedder Hugus

“These retreats are life-saving, life necessary, life affirming, and massive,” Tedder Hugus said. “It’s a blessing for leaders of new worshiping communities to set aside time and space to know and hear from God that are out of our normal rhythms.”

“I think it’s the 1001 spirit,” added Waldron. “I’ve been researching Ignatian Spirituality for so long. For me the prayer exercise that had been so elusive became an experienced thing.”

Register for the “Wait Upon the Lord” Advent Retreat here.


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